Hachette

The poet Anne Michaels once wrote that when love finds us, our pasts suddenly become obsolete science. All the secret places left fallow by loneliness are flooded with light and the immanence of the longed-for one draws us into the clearing, stains us with radiance. Yeats’s wing-footed wanderer arrives at last and the miraculous restorations of love and the imperatives of desire render our separate pasts ‘old maps, disproved theories, a diorama’.

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On the evening of 6 August 1926, Alice Anderson donned her driving goggles and gloves, waved to the cheering crowds outside Melbourne’s Lyceum Club, and got into her tiny two-seater Austin 7. With her former teacher Jessie Webb beside her, the boot packed with two guns, sleeping bags, a compass, four gallons of water, a supply of biscuits, and, strangely, two potatoes with red curly wigs, she tooted the horn and set off. Her mission? A three-week pioneering trip to the never-never. ‘There is only one main route from Adelaide to Darwin, and that is only a camel track,’ the tiny young woman behind the wheel said breezily of the 2,607-kilometre journey ahead of her. ‘We are not going to stick to the beaten track.’

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The biography has long been reserved for human subjects. It is a genre largely predicated on the idea that only humans live lives sufficiently rich and complex to be worthy of sustained examination. Countless books have centred on different kinds of animals, yet few have fallen within the biographical category. Most are found in the children’s, zoology, or fiction shelves at bookstores.

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Favel Parrett’s tender new novel, There Was Still Love, explores what it means to make a home and how a person might be free in a world ruptured by political as well as personal upheavals. Moving backwards and forwards in time (from 1981 to 1938) across vast distances – from Prague to Melbourne, via London – between first- and third-person narrators, past and present tense, Parrett beautifully captures one family’s complicated twentieth-century inheritance.

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The 2019 federal election result confirmed that housing prices, upward mobility, tax cuts, and limited immigration are powerful motivators for Australian voters. Peter Polites’s second novel, The Pillars, with its themes of social and material advancement in Sydney’s western suburbs, captures this spirit of the time perfectly ...

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In The Old Lie, Claire G. Coleman has given herself a right of reply to her award-winning début novel, Terra Nullius (2007). Here, she strips away some of the racial ambiguity of the human–alien invasion allegory of that novel and leaves in its place a meaty analysis of colonisation and imperialism ...

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From its raw and revelatory prologue, Nigel Featherstone’s novel Bodies of Men offers a thoroughly humanising depiction of Australians during World War II. In telling the story of two soldiers, William – too young to be a corporal – and his childhood friend ...

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Closing Down is about survival and the rituals that allow it; those that keep the fraying edges of life and society together, that stop a relationship disintegrating, that stave off insanity. In her début novel – which won the inaugural Richell Prize for Emerging Writers – Susan Abbott asks: how do you survive when your world is breaking into pieces?

In this gripping first novel, Sarah Schmidt re-imagines the lives of Lizzie Borden, her family, and the brutal double murder of her father and stepmother, for which Lizzie became notorious. Set in and around the Borden’s house at Fall River, Massachusetts, the narrative has a dense, claustrophobic air that feeds the portrayal of this family as menacingly close.

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Peter Polites’s first novel is remarkable in its power to evoke growing up caught between conflicting cultural and sexual identities. It tells the story of Bux, a gay man haunted by his addiction to painkillers, his abusive relationship with his drug-dealing bodybuilder boyfriend, his violent alcoholic Greek father, and a childhood where his sexuality and his trad ...

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